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Trip Report Rhode Island Get Away

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Four of us started going on a late September weekend get away when we were young mothers and no longer living in the same town where we had met in grade school. Now we are grandmothers so it has been over 35 years. Every so often we do a special trip requiring airfare but usually it's someplace in New England where we can drive. Although we had been to Rhode Island before, it was time to visit again and discover new things.

Our reason for Rhode Island was a food tour that sounded interesting but when our weekend didn't coincide with their schedule we changed to a three hour Rhode Island Red Food Tour, specifically, Downcity Providence: Savor 8 tastings, bites & sips in one of America's Top Food Cities with a professional guide. Paige Wilson, our energetic and knowledgeable guide, stayed upbeat despite the horrible weather. We had checked our weather forecast but foolishly didn't look at RI where it was windy and rainy on Friday. She kindly found us covered places in between eating places where she could tell us more about history and Providence's transformation. We encountered a plethora of Johnson & Wales graduates in addition to Paige, who are making Providence a place for people who like to eat.. We opted for the non-alcoholic tour and trusted we would get plenty to eat.

Since we also wanted to visit Newport we chose a Warren Rhode island Air B&B as a mid-way point between Providence and Newport. This turned out to be a stroke of luck. We've stopped staying in cramped hotel rooms and opt for lodgings where we can have at least a kitchenette and a comfortable living room. We no longer "just sleep there". We need a comfortable place where we can enjoy privacy and late night talking and snacks. Thanks to Fodors friends, I learned we could make a slight detour to Fall River on our drive from NH to Warren so we could lunch at Sagres, a Portuguese restaurant. All four of us were very happy with our meals and despite not being able to finish our entrees, we shared two Portuguese desserts. Both were heavenly and so was the pitcher of sangria. Without specific plans we googled ideas for a local supper and chose Meriender's where we could enjoy tapas. Only open since March, they were not crowded on a Thursday night and we enjoyed the quiet, choosing a total of 8 different plates and the lovely rustic décor. We also made a stop at Tom's Market to pick up some groceries and could have planned several meals from their prepared foods. Two of us regretted not getting some locally made coffee syrup to make some coffee "cabinets" at home. And it would also have been nice to pick up some packages of locally made Portuguese sausage.

On Friday morning we met in front of city hall for our food tour. The google maps phone app and advance research to locate places to park simplified our visit to Providence (and Newport). Ellie's Bakery was our first stop for a savory curried cauliflower on artisan bread and a small chocolate dessert. The restaurant manager was charming and informative. We returned after the tour to get take-out for our dinner. .Both of us who got soups were a bit disappointed but all the breads and pastries were wonderful. Second stop was a North Bakery location in a park near city hall where we enjoyed savory turnovers and a small lemon bar flavored with rosemary. We were served a beef tartar construction at Rosmarin at Vinya,, an upscale Swiss-inspired restaurant that uses local and fresh ingredients. Providence Coal Fired Pizza was an opportunity to share a lemony dressed arugula on top of a thin crust pizza. In addition to craft beers, the Malted Barley specializes in gourmet pretzels. We each chose a dip to share and all voted apricot butter as the yummiest. We really didn't want to leave but Gracie's was our last stop. A wonderful heirloom tomato salad was served in small bowls and we were told about the restaurant's food philosophy. I was fascinated with how tomatoes were made to taste even more wonderful with balsamic vinegar, edible flowers an a mystery ingredient. Our last taste treat was a peach macaron.

Since we were tired and damp, we opted to have take-out for dinner back in Warren. Saturday, however, was sunny with a perfect temperature. We had agreed to do two Newport Mansion tours: Beneath the Breakers and Servants Life (Elms) and I secured on-line tickets a month ahead to make sure we didn't miss out. The timing was important since each tour is at least an hour and extra time is needed to look through gift shops and around the grounds so we did the first at 9:30 and the second at 11:30 and really didn't have much extra time between the two. Visitors are warned that these tours require walking up and down stairs and the Servants Life meant walking up three very long flights to the third floor. Due to some mobility issues and getting over tired, two of us decided we might have to opt out of the second tour. I explained ahead of time to a ticket taker and asked if we could start the tour but skip the third floor part. Fortunately, a tiny historic elevator was available to discreetly take 3 of us to the third floor where most of the tour took place.

A late lunch was scheduled at Anthony's Seafood in Middleton where we could try Portuguese style chowder, Clam cakes and Stuffies as well as traditional New England seafood. Over tired and very full we decided to take a rest break in Warren and also cancel our dinner reservation at New Rivers in Providence that we had planned for after Water Fire. Water Fire is a special event held several times during the summer and early fall in Providence. The friend who wanted to see it was enchanted with the event. Two liked it well enough and I, who had seen it once before, could have skipped it. Since torches were lit along railings and bridges, visitors weren't safe in certain areas but people weren't told until 6:15 pm after many had been waiting more than an hour thinking they had chosen a great seat. The event is very crowded and there is music. We had opted to park in the garage attached to Providence Place (large indoor mall) which was a bargain for $2 (three hours or less) but became a maze of creeping cars when people began leaving Water Fire. It had also taken us a long time to find a parking place despite helpful signs and, despite warnings, we forgot which level we had parked on. We weren't the only ones since we saw a frazzled and irritated couple wandering the parking garage trying to find their car.

Ice Cream at the Eskimo King was our "dinner".

Sunday was a day to get a late start, pack up and have a leisurely breakfast. "The Restaurant" was recommended by our hostess and the weather was unusually warm enough to enjoy dining on the patio. The waitress was well acquainted with the menu which had an extensive offering of different hashes, omelets, pancakes, etc. I'm not sure what was holding my crab cakes together since they were mostly large pieces of crab. I had crab cakes benedict with home fries seasoned with a little heat (cayenne and paprika?). There was much laughter and talk since we won't see each other again until maybe next April when we make plans for our next getaway.

We could have explored more towns, beaches, events (a local church was doing a chowder lunch), farm stands, wineries, etc. Little Rhodie has a lot to offer. Every time I see a post asking about plans to tour New England in 7 days, I just shake my head. We could have spent 7 days in Rhode Island alone.

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